Medical Worker Sentenced in Hepatitis C Outbreak

Healthcare Training Resource
December 4, 2013 — 892 views  
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In a recent court case, David Kwiatkowski, a medical technician, was sentenced to 39 years in prison for having infected at least 45 patients with Hepatitis C through the use of contaminated syringes. The case has raised major concerns about safety in hospitals and how some hospital employees can endanger lives of patients through reckless behavior.

The Convict

The convict is 34 year old David Kwiatkowski, a medical technician. He is originally from Michigan and was a contract worker as well as a medical technician at several hospitals. Between 2008 and 2010, he worked at four different hospitals in Maryland. He worked at the Baltimore VA Medical Center from May to November 2008, Southern Maryland Hospital from December 2008 to February 2009, Johns Hopkins Hospital from July 2009 to January 2010, and Maryland General Hospital from January to March 2010.

He pled guilty of having obtained controlled substances by fraud and having tampered with a consumer product. The prosecution initially sought a 40 year sentence. But the judge reduced the sentence to 39 years in prison considering the fact that the convict performed the crime due to his drug addiction and not due to any intention to harm the patients.

His Modus Operandi

David Kwiatkowski was addicted to painkillers. At every hospital that he worked for, he would use their saline filled syringes to inject himself with painkillers. He is also accused of stealing the painkiller fentanyl from several hospitals, including the Exeter hospital. Then he would put those syringes back into circulation. As a result of that, the hepatitis C virus made its way into the syringes. Every patient who was treated with those syringes has now contracted the disease. Hepatitis C is known to be a fatal disease that can affect a patient’s life.

Possible Ramifications

The case has sent shock waves through the medical community. The hospitals are now testing hundreds of other patients for the infection. There have been several calls to strengthen the regulation of contract hospital workers.

Maryland officials have launched an investigation to determine how he was able to obtain and reuse the syringes. The investigation will conclude when it reaches its goal of identifying the weaknesses in the hospitals’ security and verification system which enabled the mass hepatitis infection. It has been suggested that hospital employees should be screened for drug addicts and that there should be stringent background verification for new hospital employees.

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